Florida Church’s Outreach Center Addresses Homelessness and Poverty

Ed Garvin, pastor of Calvary Orlando in Winter Park, Florida, was born into privilege, but his family fell into poverty after his father’s death. Growing up poor stirred in Garvin a passion for the less fortunate. So, when he joined the Calvary team in 2014, he focused on how the church could serve the needy.

Calvary has a history of social outreach. The church feeds the homeless three times a week and offers job training, as well. Other ministries focus on ending human trafficking and substance abuse. But poverty is the primary problem in the Florida city, where a number of residents work low-wage, tourism jobs.

“We knew we had to do something or respond in a way that’s not going to be a handout but a hand up,” Garvin says.

He believes Orlando Hope, which he describes as a “one-stop shop” for the vulnerable, will meet the needs of the community. The brainchild of Calvary Orlando, the new social outreach center will provide services to help the public overcome addiction and poverty, as well as access counseling, food assistance and medical care. It’s slated to launch by spring 2017.

“We’re going to be the place people can go and get help and be restored,” says Scott George, Orlando Hope’s director of development.

Garvin says Orlando Hope will augment the services Calvary already provides. At present, the congregation of roughly 1,000 sees 10 homeless people baptized each month. But Garvin says no one is obliged to attend the church or embrace Christianity.

You don’t have to say the name of Jesus for us to give to you,” he says. “You don’t have to say the sinner’s prayer for us to give you clothes. You don’t even have to let us pray for you. We’re supposed to demonstrate that God’s love should come without strings attached.”

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